Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan says Jimmy Garoppolo ready to play if needed, details team reaction to return

Sep 10, 2022 at 11:24 AM--

Don't expect San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Trey Lance to be on a short leash, even with Jimmy Garoppolo on the sideline. The second-year player is the undisputed starter, and Garoppolo is now his backup. It's a reversal of roles from last season, but one that the 49ers are willing to maintain as long as possible.

However, Garoppolo may see the field this season, but Lance will have to be injured or go through a long stretch of poor play for that to happen. Head coach Kyle Shanahan knows his 22-year-old quarterback is the future and needs as many in-game reps as possible, so pulling him off to the sideline in haste is unlikely to happen.

Garoppolo has just five practices under his belt since signing a restructured one-year deal with the team. They were his first since last season's playoffs. Lance was given the majority of the practice reps as he prepared for his first season as a full-time starter.

No one even figured Garoppolo would be on the roster by this point. The veteran wasn't attending team meetings. He didn't even have a playbook until signing his new deal. This week in practice, he played the role of Justin Fields to help the defense.

How ready is Garoppolo to step into a game if needed? Is he healthy and prepared enough to play on Sunday? Remember, he showed up this week on injury reports due to his right shoulder.

"Yeah, without a doubt," Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area. "His shoulder has been fine for a while. Obviously, you get better with the more reps you get. You've got to knock off that rust and stuff. Jimmy's played a lot of football. He's done really well in these five practices that we've had.

And when it comes to terminology changing, if there's anything we changed while he was gone, it was to make it easier. We don't reinvent stuff. We try to chop it away to make it easier. So he comes back and is like, 'What's that word?' I'm like, 'Oh, it used to be this.' He's like, 'Oh, that's much better.'

"But this is game week. There was a couple of things that changed in the offseason, which you fix in three seconds. But game week, those guys get a lot of new stuff on Wednesdays, so Jimmy, Trey, Brock [Purdy], all three of them are learning a lot of new words on Wednesday. They learned a lot of new words on Thursday. They're learning a few words on red zone on Friday. And then it's all about putting it to bed Saturday night, going out there, and not hesitating on Sunday."

Shanahan further discussed the team's reaction upon learning that Garoppolo was returning for another season. As shared before, he spoke with Garoppolo to gauge his interest, then approached Lance about the possibility.

The coach also wanted to see how the locker room would react. However, with 90 players on the roster at the time, he didn't want to do it in a team meeting, so he pulled 15 players into his office for a discussion.

"At first, they thought, 'How is that possible?'" Shanahan shared. "They're like, 'Who you cutting?' They're like, 'We can't do that.' And then I told them the circumstances, and why he was coming back, and how it worked, and how Jimmy thought it was the best situation for him to come back in a backup role, and how I believed it was [the best situation] for us, and 'I wanted to see what you guys thought.'

"When I told them the situation and what the role was, they were very excited. They didn't think that was a possibility. They love Jimmy. They love Trey. And they love having as many good players here as we can have."

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